PRINCE2 is the acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments and it’s a process-based method for effective project management.
PRINCE2 is recognized as a world-class international product and is the standard method for project management, not least because it embodies many years of good practice in project management and provides a flexible and adaptable approach to suit all projects. It is a project management method designed to provide a framework covering the wide variety of disciplines and activities required within a project. The focus throughout PRINCE2 is on the Business Case, which describes the rationale and business justification for the project.
Qualifications are governed by the passing of two exams: the PRINCE2 Foundation and the PRINCE2 Practitioner.
The PRINCE2 Foundation is the first of the two PRINCE2 Examinations you are required to pass to become a PRINCE2 Practitioner. This level is for those that would like to learn the basics and terminology of PRINCE2 and is aiming to measure whether a candidate would be able to act as an informed member of a project management team using the PRINCE2 method within a project environment supporting PRINCE2.
The PRINCE2 Practitioner is the highest-level qualification and is suitable for those that require managing projects within a PRINCE2 environment. To this end the candidates need to exhibit the competence required for the Foundation qualification, and show that they can apply and adjust PRINCE2 to address the needs and problems of a specific project scenario.
So what is the PRINCE2 methodology ?
For answering to this question we must start from defining what is a project. PRINCE2 defines a project as a management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case.
PRINCE2 additionally supposes that those involved in the project that are also responsible for the project will not have experience of working together to produce a similar set of outcomes or results for the same Customer in the past therefore the responsibilities between those undertaking the work, those managing it and those sponsoring it will need to be clearly defined.
Considering all this, a PRINCE2 project has the following characteristics:
- a finite and defined lifespan
- defined and measurable business products
- a corresponding set of activities to achieve the business products
- a defined amount of resources
- an organisation structure, with defined responsibilities, to manage the project.
Each project takes place within a specific business context. A project may be stand-alone, or may be one in a sequence of related projects, or may form part of a corporate strategy. A project, by its nature, is a temporary structure, created to achieve a specified business benefit or objective. When the work has been completed, the project is disbanded.
The Project Board is appointed by corporate or Programme management to provide overall direction and management of the project.
The Project Board is accountable for the success of the project, and has responsibility and authority for the project within the remit (the Project Mandate) set by corporate or Programme management.
The Project Board is the project’s ‘voice’ to the outside world and is responsible for any publicity or other dissemination of information about the project.
The responsibilities of a project Project Board can vary from project to project but there are some general responsibilities like:
- assurance that the Project Initiation Document complies with relevant;
- cstomer standards and policies, plus any associated contract with the Supplier;
- agreement with the Project Manager on that person’s responsibilities and objectives;
- confirmation with corporate or Programme management of project tolerances;
- specification of external constraints on the project such as quality assurance;
- approval of an accurate and satisfactory Project Initiation Document;
- approval of changes;
- assurance that all products have been delivered satisfactorily;
- assurance that all Acceptance Criteria have been met;
- approval of the End Project Report;
The Executive is ultimately responsible for the project, supported by the Senior User and Senior Supplier. The Executive has to ensure that the project is value for money, ensuring a cost-conscious approach to the project, balancing the demands of business, User and Supplier.
The Executive is ultimately responsible for the project, supported by the User and Supplier. The Executive has to ensure that the project is value for money, ensuring a cost-conscious approach to the project, balancing the demands of business, User and Supplier.
Among other the executive is responsible for:
- Ensure that a tolerance is set for the project in the Project Brief;
- authorise Customer expenditure and set stage tolerances;
- approve the End Project Report and Lessons Learned Report;
- brief corporate or Programme management about project progress;
- organise and chair Project Board Meetings;
- recommend future action on the project to corporate;
- validation and monitoring of the Business Case against external events and;
- against project progress;
- keeping the project in line with Customer strategies;
- monitoring project finance on behalf of the Customer;
- monitoring the business risks to ensure that these are kept under control;
- monitoring any Supplier and contractor payments;
- monitoring changes to the Project Plan to see if there is any impact on the;
- needs of the business or the project Business Case
User and Supplier
The person who is going to use the product or the outcome of the project, or who will be impacted by the outcome of a project, is called the user.
On some projects, the customer and user may be the same person. The person who provides the expertise to do the actual work on the project is called the supplier.
All of these people need to be organised and co-ordinated by the project manager, executive and project board so that the project delivers the required outcome within a given budget, by respecting the deadline, and having the appropriate quality.
The Project Manager has the authority to run the project on a day-to-day basis on behalf of the Project Board within the constraints laid down by the board.
The Project Manager’s prime responsibility is to ensure that the project produces the required Products, to the required standard of quality and within the specified constraints of time and cost, The Project Manager is also responsible for the project producing a result which is capable of achieving the benefits defined in the Business Case.
Specific responsibilities of the project manager are:
- direct and motivate the project team;
- plan and monitor the project;
- agree any delegation and use of project assurance roles required by the Project Board;
- produce the Project Initiation Document;
- prepare Project, Stage and, if necessary, Exception Plans in conjunction with Team Managers and appointed project assurance roles, and agree them with the Project Board manage business and project risks, including the development of contingency plans liaise with Programme management if the project is part of a Programme;
- take responsibility for overall progress and use of resources, and initiate corrective action where necessary;
- be responsible for change control and any required Configuration Management;
- report to the Project Board through Highlight Reports and stage assessments;
- liaise with the Project Board or its appointed project assurance roles to assure the overall direction and integrity of the project;
- agree technical and quality strategy with appropriate members of the Project Board;
- prepare the Lessons Learned Report;
- prepare any Follow-on Action Recommendations required;
- prepare the End Project Report;
- identify and obtain any support and advice required for the management;
- planning and control of the project;
- be responsible for project administration;
A project involves a lot of administrative work including meetings, communication between the team members, managers, or executives. On small projects the project manager does all this work but if there are many projects simultaneously or on big projects a Project Support Office can be set up for project manager assistance.
Even if the PRINCE2 method works with most project management techniques, the most important is:
Product based planning is the approach intended to identify all the necessary products that will go towards delivering the objectives of the project. The term ‘product‘ includes intermediate documentary products and quality products such as approvals or quality checks on earlier made products like for example requirement specifications, design approvals, safety certifications, test documentation and so on.
Once a product breakdown structure has been created, work can then begin on creating a 'product flowchart'. The product flowchart identifies the order of precedence of products and will typically include multiple and complex parallel paths.